Unless the symptoms of dementia are caused by medication, the condition doesn’t get better on its own. Some people progress quickly, while others have a slower experience. If you are caring for someone with severe dementia, you may be wondering how you can tell when they are in the last stage.
In this post, we will explore the signs of late stage dementia so that you can determine if your older adult is in this part of their disease. We will also talk about why your loved one may not fit into one stage only.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Late Stage Dementia?
The number one sign that most families spot in a person with late stage dementia is increased weakness. Does your older adult stay seated for the majority of the day or shuffle their feet when they do get up? This can be further complicated if your loved one has suffered other health issues, such as a stroke or arthritis.
Another thing to watch for is a total reliance on others. When your loved one needs help with basic tasks such as showering, getting dressed and feeding themselves, this is a sign they are in the late stage. This is also the time when major decisions need to be made, such as where your parent is going to live and the level of care they will receive.
Problems communicating is another red flag. Though your loved one may have limited communication skills, it remains important for them to talk. Include your parent in conversations and use simple language and terms so that they can understand as best as possible. Also pay attention to body language and facial expressions.
One last indication of late stage dementia is severe memory loss. Does your parent or grandparent think you are their spouse as opposed to their child or grandchild? The memories of your loved one get so hazy, they can’t remember much of anything.
Someone with Dementia Doesn’t Always Fit into One Stage
It’s important to realize that not everyone with dementia has the same symptoms, go through the same experiences or even fit into one stage. Your loved one will have a unique journey. In fact, they may teder back and forth between a middle and late stage.
One minute your loved one may be acting fairly normal, while they next they are anxious and confused. They aren’t doing this on purpose. The brain is complex, and dementia affects various parts of it. Researchers aren’t sure how and why this happens.
The best approach to take is to keep your loved one comfortable and stimulate their senses by playing music, taking them out for a walk or letting them paint with watercolors. Remember that you aren’t alone, either. Talking to someone in your community, attending a support group or joining an online forum can be uplifting as you go through the dementia stages with your loved one.